Decision made!

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By Sandy Gil

Sunday Dunes

Saturday, August 2, 2014


I FLEW to Manila last week - with a plane ticket funded by my generous Mom - still stuck with the dilemma I had in the beginning. With a book I had written nominated for a prestigious nationwide book award, I had yet to decide whether or not to go to the awards ceremony.

Ella, my writer daughter, could not be with me as she had another engagement on the same day. She nevertheless urged me to attend, if only to mingle with the literary circles in Manila. My youngest child, Toni, offered to accompany me, gushing over the novelty and whiteness (?) of the venue where the ceremony was to be held. Duh. I had thought of inviting my Mom to be with me since she funded my plane fare. And it fleetingly crossed my mind to ask Toni and Mom instead to attend in my behalf. Options, options, options!

There had to be a clincher... Mom commanded me to go. Sigh.

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A prestigious national award deserves a semi-formal attire, the invitation said. So, in case of emergency, I had packed a simple dress for the occasion. Since I was uncertain about my desire to attend the awards ceremony, I deliberately left behind my dependable (fake) pearl fashion accessories, knowing I could borrow Mom's anyway.

The day of the awards ceremony arrived. Totally ignorant of what to expect of the event, I dressed up, semi-formal of course - with pearls, bag and shawl borrowed from Mom. This was such a sacrifice for me! With great reluctance... I left for the awards ceremony, with Toni in tow.

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Arriving at the venue, we were shocked by the most colorful decorations, complete with buntings, shaped balloons and all! In fact, at the lobby, snacks of spaghetti, barbecue and "street" ice cream (in no less than a sorbetero cart manned by a vendor in a sombrero) were being served. It looked more like a kiddie party than a prestigious awards ceremony. I actually expected Ronald McDonald to suddenly appear.

I wanted to rip off my semi-formal (and therefore, incongruous) pearl fashion accessories!

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Toni and I soon entered the hall, and immediately saw a long table filled with so many books! A sign above the table read: "2014 Book Entries." Interesting. Each book had a number assigned to it on the upper right hand corner of its cover. Toni scrounged through the sea of books to find out how many books were nominated to the award: more than 150!!! OMG, I said. The probabilities of getting an award was the same as winning a Miss Universe Beauty Pageant... as in nil.

I never had any expectations of getting the award; and with more than 150 books having been nominated, my intuitions were confirmed. But, I thought, since I was at the awards ceremony, I may as well make the most of it, whatever that meant.

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And so the ceremony started. I had thought that the kiddie party ambiance would remain just that, an ambiance. But nay! There was more. The ceremony was interactive, that is, with full audience participation! It was amusing to witness invited guests, cabinet undersecretaries and national artists, shake their booties, stomp their feet and sing ditties of "buchiki." To Toni's chagrin, I did everything that was opposite of the emcee's instructions, for after all, we were tucked in one tiny corner of the big hall, anonymous to the crowd.

With all the surprising hullabaloo going on, I fervently prayed that I would not get an award and be obliged to go up the stage to give a short speech to thank my parents - especially my Mom and Dad - and the Filipino people, in general. This did not seem like a prestigious national award to me.

My snobbish attitude was surfacing. Not good, I told myself.

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Taking hold of my own fate, I told the heavens and the gods: enough is enough. Toni and I left, without finishing the ceremony.

And we awarded ourselves with hotdogs, coke float and French fries from Jollibee instead.

That's what I call a victory!

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 03, 2014.

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